Forests, especially tropical rain forests, play a crucial role in cooling the Earth and countering global warming through at least seven mechanisms:
1. Evapotranspiration: Trees release water vapor through their leaves, which requires energy and cools the surrounding area, cooling the Earth’s surface.
2. Shade and Soil Moisture: Forest canopies provide shade and maintain high humidity levels, preventing the soil from drying out. This helps keep biological activity and keep temperatures lower.
3. Cloud Formation: Forests create dense clouds, which reflect sunlight back into space, increasing albedo and reducing heat absorption.
4. Biotic Pump: Large forests draw in humid air from oceans, maintaining rainfall even far inland, creating more cooling biomass.
5. Condensation-Driven Airflow: As water vapor condenses into clouds, it releases latent heat energy which radiates into space, cooling the atmosphere. It also causes air to rise, contributing to cooling at ground level.
6. Reduced Sensible Heat: Sensible heat amplifies global warming. Forests diminish the amount of sensible heat, absorbing it as latent heat (released during evapotranspiration) diminishing the effects of greenhouse gases.
7. CO2 Uptake: Forests act as carbon sinks, absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, which helps reduce greenhouse gas levels.
Forests, especially tropical rain forests, have a significant cooling effect on the Earth’s climate. Their role goes way beyond just absorbing CO2; they also release water vapor, create clouds, and generate cooling mechanisms that help mitigate global warming. In fact the carbon storage may only be around 1% of the total cooling effect! Once the world wakes up to that it would put its money on reforestation and forest preservation, indispensable strategies to combat the fast accelerating climate catastrophe.